Thu 24 Nov 2011
There were a few questions that were answered last weekend at the Metrodome. Can a dominant 4A team that has moved up to the state’s top class, hang with the state’s greatest football program? The other is the annual question, how good is this years edition of Cretin-Derham Hall? A perennial power from the east side, the Raiders have had some fantastic teams over the years.
On friday night we got our first answer, and EP left no doubt. The Eden Prairie Eagles came out like a team that had been reading the papers, taking issue with a few writers around town that thought the Eagles from the east could hang with the Eagles from the west. Mike Grant’s team hung 42 points on Totino in the first half alone, this was an astounding performance as even this ex- Eden Prairie Eagle turned novice sportswriter was shocked. Totino is a 5A capable team, they beat a strong Mounds View team and followed that by knocking out Prior Lake in the state quarterfinals. Stepping up to 5A is one thing, facing a Lake Conference juggernaut is a whole different level of football.
Cretin-Derham Hall was as unfortunate as Totino-Grace, Wayzata came out on a mission to defend their title with great focus and perfect execution. This was not one of those Cretin teams that had the championship talent of years past, they have been plagued by injury all year. Plain and simple, they just dont have the size and speed that we’re used to seeing from them this year and Wayzata knew it. The score at the half wasn’t as remarkable as EP’s lead the evening before. The 21-0 mark was just as dominant, and Wayzata wasn’t done, they continued to press the Raider defense and extended the lead to 42-0 late in the game. And that’s where it would stand.
Some people are tired of the reign of these 2 programs. They say they’re only good because of their numbers, or they recruit. My response, there isn’t another class of football to play so you win the games on your schedule, and EVERYBODY RECRUITS!
Friday night we’ll see 2 teams that faced each other just a month ago. Wayzata won that meeting 9-0. In that game Wayzata’s defense smothered the Ep running attack with their speed and scheme. Note that Eden Prairie star RB Andrew Larsen was nursing a knee injury and was limited to 10 carries. Here are my 2 keys:
1. Healthy Andrew Larsen vs. Wayzata’s defense. Larsen has gotten healthy at the right time of year. You can see the confidence in this Ep offense when they have him at full speed. He is the kind of back that opens up the rest of the Eagle offense. The size of the Ep OL is mind boggling, it literally rivals the Golden Gopher unit. On paper you’d think Ep should have its way with the Trojans, Wayzata’s biggest defensive lineman weighs 220 lbs. Nobody plays a more complex scheme then Wayzata, they play with great speed and technique. The scheme keeps you completely off balance because you never know what kind of twist or stunt they’re going to throw at you. This week however Ep is too much, advantage Larsen.
2. Nick Martin vs. the Ep secondary. Martin picked apart Cretin’s talented secondary with precision passing, helped along by the balance of RB’s Eric Roti and Antonio Ford. Ep will have to get after Martin early and often and not allow him to get into a rhythm. Wayzata knows, Ep knows, the state of Minnesota knows that if you can jump out early on Ep early you can force the Eagles into doing things they don’t like to do. Advantage Martin
The 4 ”S’s” Ep’s size and strength vs. Wayzata’s speed and scheme will dictate the winner.
Prediction: Every year Ep has a defense that is second to none. Its the years that their offense is peaking the way it is now that they win titles. Ep 17 Wayzata 13.
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